Middle school student honored by the governor

A Langley Middle School eighth-grader is aiming high. Simone Hamilton wants to help others either as president of the United States or as a philanthropist like Oprah Winfrey.

She is getting a good start by helping a local organization for abused women and children. Her efforts so far have gotten high praise, too: Hamilton was honored by the governor last week for her service to her community.

Hamilton was one of only a handful of students in the state to be recognized by Governor Christine Gregoire during National Volunteer Week.

Hamilton received a certificate and a decorative paperweight with details of her award.

Hamilton was nominated for the honor by the middle school’s Learn and Serve Program. The nomination detailed Hamilton’s efforts to raise funds for Citizens Against Domestic Abuse, or CADA, an organization that assists victims of domestic violence.

“I feel very passionate about helping people in abusive situations,” Hamilton said.

The energetic 14-year-old raised money through donations and bake sales for phone cards for clients of CADA. She also wrote a grant for more money to buy blankets for CADA’s families.

“We felt it was important for people in abusive situations to be able to call for help to get away,” Hamilton said

“She is very special and inspirational to others,” said Susie Richards, director of the Community Engagement Center.

Hamilton is already trying her hand at politics. She is president of the middle school student body and a leader on the track team. Although she was injured this year, she still goes to track meets to help her team members and coaches.

Last year she was the only girl to ever play on the Cougar football team. And Hamilton was also on the Math Olympiad team and a member of an Island County 4-H horse riding team.

For her eighth-grade project, Hamilton is selling light blue bracelets for the Dove Self-Esteem Foundation for Girls.

“We nominated Simone because she embodies what is best about young people who serve,” Richards said.

“She is strong, passionate about the causes she engages in, not afraid to speak her mind and share her views, and care about others and the world around her.”

“She truly believes, even at 14, that she can make a difference in her school, our community and in the larger world. She is a role model for all of us,” Richards added.

“The wonderful thing about South Whidbey is that we have so many young people, like Simone that have these same strengths and caring inside of them. But what they need are more opportunities to put their beliefs and gifts and talents to work to make a difference,” said Richards, a former middle school teacher.

Hamilton is not sure what challenges she will tackle next year, but she knows it will involve reaching out to others in her community.

Hamilton is the daughter of Brenda Hamilton of Clinton.

The award is given through the Washington Commission for National and Community Service, a state office that promotes service and volunteerism as a strategy to accomplish needed activities throughout the state.

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